Review: Scarabus Islay Single Malt Whisky

Review: Scarabus Islay Single Malt Whisky

It should come as zero surprise to anyone reading this site with regularity (and thank you for that) that as a collective, we are big fans of nearly everything emanating from Islay. It doesn’t really matter the distillery, the bottler, or the finish, we’ll probably drink it. We’ll even try contract independent bottlings hiding behind a corporate label or pseudonym if there’s a promise of a peated good time. Which is what we have here today. This mystery bottling from Hunter Laing carries no birth certificate or form of valid ID. It was purchased at a local chain shop which shall remain nameless, but undoubtedly owns the rights to the brand in the United States.

The nose is unusually pleasant and approachable, with a light honey and floral touch balancing out the traditional peated and citrus notes evident in most classic Islay malts. A splash of water brings out briney elements, lemon zest, and a bit more of the peat influence. On the palate there’s a pleasant balance of campfire, black tea, and vanilla that never reaches the levels of intensity found in other Islay malts. However, the peat kicks in midway through as a reminder of where this expression originates. The finish is somewhat abrupt, but is never disagreeable: plenty of oak, cloves, and pepper to complement fading notes of peat still hanging around in the distance.

“Guess the Distillery” is a feature on the site being played with increasing frequency and I would safely put my chips down on this originating from Caol Ila. It is quite a youthful representation, but respectively serviceable. For $30, it’s a solid economy buy and great news for people growing weary of paying out larger sums just to enjoy an everyday peated single malt.

92 proof.

B / $30

Scarabus Islay Single Malt Whisky




Rob Theakston is a contributing editor to Drinkhacker.


  1. Good 'ol Scotchy Scotch on October 16, 2023 at 6:58 am

    This is my favorite Islay Scotch. For the price and the flavor you can’t go wrong. Total Wine in NY sells this, but they have recently come out with a 12 year. The 12 year has too much of an alcohol bite to it so I’m sticking with the small batch Scarabus.

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